Some More Mistakes to Consider
After reading my article “Some Mistakes to consider”, a reader wrote to ask me to give more mistakes to consider. I hope you will be interested to read the following four sentences and see what mistakes they contain:
1.May I introduce you my brother?
2.Please favour me an early reply.
3.I will inform you the result by and by1.
4.He has presented me a book.
I think you have read about the double object in grammar. You have been told that a verb may take two objects, one called the direct and the other called the indirect. You have seen such sentences as:
1.Can you recommend me a tailor?
2.Please send me an early reply.
3.I will tell you the truth by and by.
4.He has lent me a book.
But have you ever seen sentences like those in the first group? I have often seen them in the English written by Chinese learners of English, but never in any Englishman’s writing. In an Englishman’s writing, these sentences would read:
1.May I introduce my brother to you?
2.Please favour me with an early reply.
3.I will inform you of the result by and by.
4.He has presented a book to me.
He has presented me with a book.
Now you can see that the verbs “introduce”, “favour”, “inform”, and “present” cannot take the double object, though the verbs “recommend”, “send”, “tell”, and “lend” can. Grammars mention the double object and give examples of it, but they do not tell you that only a few verbs can take the double object, nor do they mention any verbs with which this construction is impossible. It seems to me, therefore, that the four mistakes that I have just mentioned are quite common among Chinese learners, even among those2 who have studied grammar carefully.
To tell the truth3, grammar does not help you much in writing. It tells you what is right, but it does not tell you much about what is wrong. When you have seen a certain construction in your grammar, you try to make use of4 it in your own writing. Possibly you have made no mistake, but it is also possible that you have made a mistake.
- by and by 不久以后
- To tell the truth 老实说
- make use of 利用